The yearning

I've got to get something off my chest: lately I've been thinking about my own mortality and what will happen to all of my unsold art when I'm gone. Now, I'm not normally a morbid person, but recently, since I've been thinking about this little issue, it's made me think about how many years I might have left and how I'm spending them. I'm sure you've all seen the famous painting by Edvard Munch, "The Scream," and lately this is how I've felt in my mind. I feel like screaming because all I want to do is paint, and be successful at it. But here I sit, at my regular day job, bored and frustrated because I'd rather be home painting. As jobs go, my day job is not a bad job; I've been working in a political atmosphere for 24 years and involved, in a roundabout way, in the law-making process in Virginia, and I count myself lucky to have found such an interesting job. However, 24 years is starting to feel like 50, and the yearning to leave and do my own thing is so strong it hurts. And I don't even ask to make thousands of dollars (although that would be great!), just a nice living from painting to add to my retirement income. And I wonder: what will my daughter do with all my paintings? Certainly, I hope she keeps some that she really loves, and perhaps passes them down to her own children. My husband and I both had grandparents who painted and we have some of their paintings, and they are some of the most cherished possessions we own. So, I hope I didn't bore you with this little bit of candor; it's rare that I write about such a personal and emotional thing, but it was nice to get it out, to speak of my fears and dreams out loud. Do any of you have similar thoughts? What your legacy will be, and how you'll spend the time left to you? Some heavy food for thought. I promise I'll be more cheerful next time.

"The Scream" ~ Edvard Munch

"The Scream" ~ Edvard Munch

Dip or hamster wheel?

I'm currently reading one of those self-help books for entrepreneurs by Seth Godin, called "The Dip." The Dip is a stretch of time for creatives, business people, etc., that you go through in your career, but that sometimes makes you feel stuck, but that, even when it seems difficult to keep going, you do. You're experiencing The Dip, according to Godin, the time when you are learning and honing your skills and promoting yourself.  Going through The Dip can take years of hard work. The opposite of being in The Dip is being in a cul-de-sac, or, if you prefer another analogy, a hamster wheel, where you keep running in circles, or find yourself in a dead-end cul-de-sac going round and round with nowhere to really go. So, the premise of the book is do you work through The Dip, or realize that your're in a hamster wheel/cul-de-sac and go on to something more suited to your skills?  Once you get through The Dip, it's supposed to get easier, you just have to stick with it. I feel like I've been through a lot of dips in my art journey, but probably more hamster wheels, truth be told. It's probably why I sometimes go from style to style, trying to find the one that suits me and my personality best. So, think about your creative endeavors or business strategy, and ask yourself if you're Dipping, and working through The Dip, even though it might be tough at times, or ask yourself if you're in that wheel, spinning around and getting nowhere, and maybe it's time to change your focus. I'm sharing a small piece that I'm working on that has a "dip" in it, and I wonder if if I put in there subconsciously. Hmmmm... Comments always welcome! Tell me about your dips or cul-de-sacs.

That thing called luck

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, this post is about luck, and the debate on whether it exists or not.  I've seen some fellow artists who have made a lot of sales, like several pieces on any given day, and I've been quick to say "they're so lucky!" Hmmm, I wonder. Is it possible that maybe they're just working incredibly hard?  Sure, maybe they got lucky by making a connection with the right person at the right time, like unknowingly chatting with a gallery owner in the checkout lane at Walmart, or running into an interior designer at the gym or hair salon, but I believe you have to work hard and PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE first. I've been thinking about branding lately: what's my story, or what's a piece of my art's story? I've really gone out on a limb recently by ramping up my social media presence, telling stories, and taking chances, like calling a local community center, which resulted in my first upcoming exhibition. I've been trying to comment and connect more with fellow artists on Twitter and Facebook, and slowly, slowly, I think it's starting to pay off, not to mention I'm meeting and getting to know some great people out there. And, obviously, a benefit of lots of hard work is that your skills will get better and better. So, here's wishing all of you the best of luck, with maybe a lot of hard work thrown in, no matter what you're doing. Please share your experiences below in the comments and connect!

"Green Dance," 2015, Alcohol ink on artist panel

"Green Dance," 2015, Alcohol ink on artist panel

Raising a ruckus

I thought I'd share my progress so far of a new, colorful abstract piece that I'm working on, "Raising A Ruckus." We've probably all heard that phrase (or maybe it's mostly a southern thing), but it's mostly used to convey calamity or chaos, and goodness knows we've got a lot of that going on in the world today. But I'm thinking of it differently; couldn't raising a ruckus be done in a good way, for good? Like getting active and participating in a cause you're passionate about. So, in that context, this painting has happy energy and colors, I hope. At least that's what I'm trying to do. No darkness or dark colors allowed!

I'd be interested in your thoughts on things you've gotten stirred up about; please feel free to comment below. Now go out there and raise a ruckus.


Girl power!

“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.”– Susan B. Anthony

We all, I'm sure, know strong women. For me, my mother is the #1 example of a strong woman who's influenced my life. Today, while honoring and celebrating the strong women in our lives, think about their accomplishments, their hardships, their courage, and remember to never overlook your own. 

I'm posting a painting of a more obscure female Impressionist artist, Berthe Morisot. From Wikipedia: "In February 2013, Morisot became the highest priced female artist, when After Luncheon (1881), a portrait of a young redhead in a straw hat and purple dress, sold for $10.9 million at a Christie's auction. The painting achieved roughly three times its upper estimate exceeding the $10.7 million for a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois in 2012."  The art world, for much of civilization, was considered a man's world and female artists were (and in some ways still are) considered inferior to male artists, so Morisot's success is especially noteworthy.

So, here's to all the fabulous, talented, strong, and courageous women out there - march on!




A round tuit, or procrastination

"Just do it!"  ~ Nike

We've all used and heard the phrase "when I get around to it." Years ago, when I was a little girl, my Dad brought home a little round thingy similar to this:

Now, I don't ever recall my Mom using this phrase a lot; she was and is a good housekeeper and always got things done. It was probably just my Dad's being funny, which he frequently was. As I began another piece of art the other day, the phrase "when the spirit moves me," kept running through my head and, the more I thought about it, the more the "round tuit" phrase kept coming up; two different ways of saying the same thing. Below is a detail shot of this latest work in progress, "When the Spirit Moves Me," and you'll see some "round tuits" in it, my version of them anyway. Procrastination can be a crippling thing, and I've learned, just like the Nike people said, to "just do it!" 

Kick the Can, and a pond

"Youth is, after all, just a moment, but it is the moment, the spark that you always carry with you."

This past weekend, I took a trip home, just my dog and me, to visit my Mom in my hometown. For some reason during the drive this time, I spent time thinking about my childhood. All along the route I take to drive home, there are a few little ponds in the fields along the way, and, being especially sunny and beautiful days, the sunlight sparkled on the water of these little bodies of water, and reminded me of a little pond/lake behind my childhood home that I could see every time I looked out our kitchen and family room windows. Seeing these little ponds during my drive, with the reflecting sunlight, gave me comforting memories of my childhood. I have fond memories of that house and the field behind our house where even horses lived occasionally, and of the neighborhood; sledding in the winter, the way the little pond looked on sunny days, playing Kick the Can under the streetlights with my good friends until after dark. So, the point of today's post is, I think, that if you were lucky enough to have a warm and loving childhood, to cherish those times when things were simpler. You may find that it gives you perspective and comfort when you need it most. 

"Alive Under A Calypso Sky"  mixed media on canvas 

"Alive Under A Calypso Sky"  mixed media on canvas 

The artist in all of us

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." ~ Pablo Picasso

Truth be told, we could ALL learn something from the great Picasso, not just artists. We all have a talent or something we're good at doing, and we tend to concentrate on that, which is to be expected. But it's important to leave our comfort zone every once in awhile and try something we're not very good at. It takes a lot of courage to be bold and have no fear to try something new or daunting. I've learned this in stepping out in my art business; I'm trying new techniques, but mostly in finding a public venue to exhibit my work. I'm an introvert; I don't like the spotlight or any kind of attention solely on myself, but I realized that the only way I would get really good exposure for my art is to exhibit it in a public place, which I'll be doing in May. That means meeting and greeting people, and mingling. It's not that I hate to interact with people, and I'm actually very friendly one-on-one, but it's just not in my comfort zone. What do you have that could be improved by being bold and stepping out?

Sticking to it

"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality."  ~ George Hopkins

Commitments run the gamut--from a commitment to ourselves (perhaps in the form of a New Year's resolution) to a commitment to another person (perhaps in the form of a wedding ring). Commitments can be hard, and they often involve sacrifice on our part. But the only way to achieve anything significant is to commit ourselves to it. If we never make any commitments, we never do anything significant. Commitments are beautiful because they are proof of a full life.  ~ from Positive Quotes for Every Day by Patricia Lorenz

What are you committed to? For me, for the last two years, I've been committed to finding my voice, my signature style. There are so many art styles that I love, that it's hard to choose one to focus on. I've always been fascinated by abstract art, but I've never been very good at it, so my focus for the last two years has been learning about abstract styles and trying them on for size to see which ones I love doing. My commitment to abstract painting has led me to more intuitive painting, to see where the colors, forms, and shape take me in a painting, and I've had a blast. Below is my first really intuitive painting, and one I'm keeping as a reminder of my commitment to my art. I encourage you to think about your commitments; your relationships, your passions, your commitment to yourself to grow. Please feel free to comment and tell me what you're committed to!


"All Mixed Up," mixed media on canvas. Private collection of the artist.

"All Mixed Up," mixed media on canvas. Private collection of the artist.

Technicolor world

"It's all a matter of keeping my eyes open."Annie Dillard

Artists and other creative types are trained to look around. As a matter of fact, I credit my passion for art with my love of nature, and vice versa.  I've always been very grateful that I do take notice of the world around me; the skies and oceans fascinate me, and the mountains call me. Every month has its beauty: the stark simplicity of winter and snow; the new life abounding in color in the spring; the lush greens of summer; and the rich tones of autumn. All are unique, and if we look we will find amazing things. I've gotten in the habit of having my cell phone with me always, so I can capture a perfect moment in nature and, eventually, convert it to a painting.

So challenge yourself to get in the habit of looking around you and engaging all of your senses. You never know where it might lead you creatively; go paint or write about a sunset; smell the salt air at the beach and try to capture it on paper or canvas. Your life will be the richer for it.


"Poppies, Isle of Shoals"   ~ Childe Hassam, American Impressionist

"Poppies, Isle of Shoals"  ~ Childe Hassam, American Impressionist